Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Mini Film Reviews #6 - Us, Angel Of Mine & More

Now it's officially spooky season, well in fact it's almost over, I've got a long list of horror films to chat about with you. Some good, some not so good, but it's hard to find a really scary horror film now isn't it? There are a few lighter films thrown in too, but if you've seen any of these I'd love to know what your thoughts were too!
collage - film posters, bridget jones's baby, ma, 12 feet deep, late night, us, annabelle comes home

Ma - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was one of the most anticipated films of 2019 and it definitely didn't disappoint. It's a psychological horror so not full of jump scares but Octavia Spencer does creepy so well. She plays a lonely, middle-aged woman who befriends teenagers and lets them party in her basement. There are rules though, one person has to stay sober, you can't swear and you never go upstairs. They must also refer to her as Ma. Hospitality soon becomes obsession though and the kids find themselves in a bit of a nightmare. I think horrors can be really hard to get right nowadays and people are always quick to judge and expect them to be bad but so much about this was brilliant.

12 Feet Deep - ⭐⭐⭐

This is more in the category of 'meh' horror films. It was definitely better than I expected and a really interesting concept but not mindblowing. The film shows two sisters fighting for survival after getting trapped beneath the fiberglass cover of a swimming pool. The night janitor who they are relying on for help, sees this is an opportunity to solve some of her own problems instead though, and there's a possibility the girls will never make it out alive. I mean, a lot of it comes down to common sense - like the pool would ever be shut for a long weekend without checking everyone has left, but then there wouldn't be a film would there?

Annabelle Comes Home - ⭐⭐⭐

I'm a big fan of the conjuring films, I think Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are always fantastic in them, but I was pretty disappointed with the latest film in the series. It seemed to take ages to get going, it was nowhere near as scary as the previous Annabelle films and I just couldn't really see how it fitted in with the rest of the series. It was just lacking compared to Annabelle: Creation.

Bridget Jones's Baby - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Finally something lighthearted! The Bridget Jones films are some of my all time faves and each year around Christmas i.e anytime from September onwards 😂I re-watch them all. In fact, I watch them all several times at this time of year because ITV seem to play them on repeat, not that I'm complaining. I'd only seen the third film, Bridget Jones's Baby once before so it was so lovely to re-watch recently, and I loved it just as much as I thought I would. There's something so comforting about the films, and I really hope they make a final one in the future.

Us - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I was waiting to watch this for sooooo long! From the same writer and director as Get Out which did amazingly well in 2017, Us follows Adelaide Wilson and her family who arrive at their summer home and are attacked by a creepy group of doppelgangers. The cast are all insane in this, especially Lupita Nyong'o who steals literally every scene she's in. It was incredibly tense and very dark, and I definitely recommend giving it a watch if you like something a bit different.

Angel Of Mine - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This impressed me way more than I expected! Starring Yvonne Strahovski who you might recognise from The Handmaid's Tale, Luke Evans and Noomi Rapace, it's about a woman who is still grieving the death of her daughter and starts to think she might still be alive after she meets a fellow parent's child at school. It's a story that's been done before but something about this stands out. I genuinely never knew whether to believe that this woman was actually just a bit mad or if she really was telling the truth and all along her daughter was still alive. There's drama, suspense and a clear ending for once which doesn't always happen with thriller films like this.

Late Night - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Let's end on something happy shall we? I'm a big fan of Mindy Kaling, and have been ever since she played Kelly on The US Office and you can't help but love Emma Thompson so a film with them both really intrigued me. Emma plays a late night talk show host in America who finds out she's about to lose her job, and Mindy comes in playing Molly Patel, the woman who could be just about to save the day. It's funny, has some really heartwarming moments and was a great chilled out film to watch on a Saturday night.

Have you watched any of these film aswell? Are you a horror fan?

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Monday, 28 October 2019

My Hasselback Fajita Chicken Recipe

When I hear the word hasselback in cooking, I always think of potatoes. I mean, I love hasselback potatoes but they aren't something I make very often really but I love making hasselback chicken. I've shared my recipe for spinach and Philadelphia chicken in the past which uses the same technique but a few weeks ago I changed the ingredients and made it spicy instead! We love fajitas, we legit have them most weeks, in fact any Mexican food is a winner for us so I thought the flavours would go perfectly with this and it would just be something a little different to usual.
hasselback fajita chicken on plate with refried beans, mexican rice and salad. Gold cutlery next to it
Ingredients: for 2 people
2 chicken breasts
1/2 a red onion
1 red pepper
Olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt & pepper
Grated cheddar
Mixed herbs

Method:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and spray a baking tray with spray oil or line with foil
2. Cut slits into your chicken making sure not to go all the way through, I got about 5 slits on each chicken breast this time
3. Slice your red onion and pepper into strips
4. Stuff each gap in the chicken breasts with a slice of pepper and onion. Lightly drizzle each chicken breast with olive oil
5. To make your fajita topping, in a bowl add the cumin powder, chilli powder, paprika, garlic powder and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix these together well and then sprinkle evenly over both bits of chicken. Use a spoon to spread the fajita mix fully across the chicken
6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for around 45 minutes
7. Remove the chicken from the oven, top with grated cheese and a sprinkle of mixed herbs and bake for a further 5 minutes
8. When the cheese has melted, you can start serving. We had our fajita chicken with Mexican rice, refried beans and salad. You may need some sour cream on the side too as the mix is quite spicy!
collage - chicken stuffed with onion and pepper, chicken covered in melted cheese, closeup of plate with chicken, rice, salad and refried beans
This was so much easier than I had expected it to be and I can see it becoming one of our new faves. Let me know if you give this a try or if you have any other flavour ideas for hasselback chicken!

Recipes - Meat & Potato Pie // Sausage pesto pasta bake // The perfect roast potatoes

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Friday, 25 October 2019

5 Films To Watch On A Rainy Autumnal Day

I adore films. I'm sure you all know by now because it's not like I don't talk about them enough. I've shared my ultimate girl power movies, my top Christmas film recommendations and more, but today I wanted to talk about some of my fave films to watch on a rainy, autumnal day. I am in my element with this cold, wet weather we're having at the moment and I'm sure we'll have for many months yet, and I love nothing more than to get snug on the sofa with a hot drink and to stick a film on when it's like this. I had many, many movies I could talk about but I've narrowed it down to five that I think are some of the best to curl up with.
gold mirror tray on coffee table with woodfire apple candle and glass pumpkin. Harry potter and chamber of secrets on tv in background

Harry Potter

Let's get the obvious out of the way. In my opinion, there is no better film for a rainy day than Harry Potter. There is just something so incredibly comforting about it and everytime the music starts, I instantly feel happy. The setting, the dark stories, the magic, the snow, just so much about each film makes me think of Autumn, Winter and Christmas, all of my favourite things so I can guarantee whichever film is on, it will put a smile on my face. All of the films have been playing on ITV for a few weeks now, the latest being The Prisoner Of Azkaban so you've still got time to catch up ready for the next one this Sunday!
harry potter gif

The Holiday

I'm always torn between The Holiday and Love Actually when it comes to my fave festive film. I think Love Actually just tops it but this film fills me with so much joy. It's got an absolutely stellar cast including Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and Jack Black, and it's a movie I could never get bored of. I love the tiny cottage, the contrast between Christmas in England and in LA and the relationships that come about that you would never predict. It's one of those films that just makes me feel cosy and always gets me in the mood for Christmas.
the holiday gif

The Twilight Saga

Maybe not everyone's first choice but man I love the Twilight films! I was utterly obsessed with them when I was like 14 and whilst I definitely cringe at moments now when I watch the films, they'll always have a special place in my heart. You know when you just have certain things that take you right back to a certain age or moment? Well these films do that for me. Robert Pattinson as Edward and Taylor Lautner as Jacob - swoon. I think my fave has to be either New Moon or Eclipse but I could watch all of them over and over. I think the Twilight series always stand out as a good one to watch on a cold, rainy day, because that's very much what the setting of the films is like. They just make me want to curl up with a blanket and a hot cup of tea.
Twilight - bella and edward dancing

Sweeney Todd

I actually only watched Sweeney Todd for the first time last year - oddly it was the film I decided to put on whilst decorating the Christmas tree and now I'm tempted to do the same thing this year! From the moment it started though, I loved it. It was dark, tense and the music throughout is some of the best. Johnny Depp was perfect casting for the mad Sweeney Todd, out for revenge and I think we can all agree Helena Bonham Carter steals pretty much every film she's in. This is such a perfect choice to watch around Halloween.
Sweeney Todd gif

Love Actually

I had to end this post with Love Actually. Once October starts, I get out all of the Christmas films and this really is the ultimate for me. It's heartwarming, funny and makes me feel festive AF. I love that each character has their own story but how they all sort of start to interweave at points, and I still think each time I watch it - will we ever get a cast like that again? I don't think we will. Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth - I mean, we're talking some of the best british actors around here. I can't quite put into words how special this film is to me, it just sums up the best time of year.
Hugh Grant, Love Actually gif
What's your go-to film on a rainy day?

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Thursday, 24 October 2019

4 Tips For Combatting Tiredness In Autumn & Winter*

I don't know about you but I seriously struggle with tiredness and lack of energy when it comes to the colder months of the year. Don't get me wrong, I would take Autumn and Winter over Spring and Summer any day but that's not to say they don't have an impact when it's getting dark by 4pm and not getting light until way into the morning - as if getting out of bed wasn't difficult enough as it is! As I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling like this, I have a few tips on how you can combat that lack of energy and I'd love to know if you have any other suggestions.
flatlay - pink background, book, pharmaton capsules, garnier face mask, essie green nail polish

Venture Out Each Day

Now, with working from home and having a small pup to look after, Monday to Friday, I don't always get out for more than a couple of dog walks and of course there's nothing wrong with having a day in to yourself, but sometimes just half an hour of natural daylight and taking in the fresh air, can do the world of good. I find a short walk each day wakes me up and I come back feeling so refreshed and like I can take on anything. Lack of sunlight means your brain produces more melatonin which only makes you even more sleepy, so if you are having a cosy day in, at least open the curtains and get those windows open wide.

Regular Exercise

I don't mean you need to be someone that goes to the gym each day or goes for an hour run each lunchtime, that's certainly not something I'm about to do but following on from my last point, getting out and going for a walk can be enough sometimes. It's surprising how much more energised you can feel from a brisk walk and I personally much prefer getting out and about in the colder months. It's an excuse to get wrapped up warm or take an extra long hot bath when I get in! Getting out in the late afternoon too can combat early evening tiredness and therefore help with a better night's sleep.

Vitamins & Supplements

Multivitamins and supplements are great to help with fatigue, and there are an abundance of brands out there for you to try, suitable for different ages and different needs. I think it's important to get into the habit of taking vitamins each morning with breakfast - before you know it it'll just become part of your morning routine. I've recently been trying out the Pharmaton Vitality Capsules which are a multivitamin, mineral and ginseng supplement. Each capsule contains Vitamins A, B, C, D and E aswell as Folic Acid and Biotin, and also minerals such as Iron, Calcium, Copper, Magnesium and Zinc. Whilst these won't cure everything, capsules like this can offer relief of daily fatigue that comes with a busy lifestyle and also prevent symptoms caused by an unbalanced diet which I'll talk more about soon. These particular capsules are suitable for both men and women, and can be found in Boots. Do you take any vitamins or supplements, and if so, do you find they make a big difference?
Pharmaton capsules collage - left side the box, right side is the bottle

A Balanced Diet

I know we all talk about a balanced diet and the importance of it, so it's no surprise I'm sure to see this mentioned, but what you eat really does have such a massive impact on your energy levels. When I eat well, I feel amazing - my skin clears up, my hair feels thicker, my clothes fit better and just generally I feel reinvigorated. When I eat takeaways or overload on chocolate, you can guarantee I'll wake up feeling extra tired and sluggish. We love our comforting, filling meals in Autumn and Winter like stews and pies but that doesn't mean they have to be unhealthy. I pack our meals full of veg when I can or serve it on the side, that way we're still getting all the goodness, and different fruit comes into season throughout the year so you can always be changing it up and trying new things.

Whilst none of these tips for combatting tiredness might be groundbreaking, I do find they all help me when I'm feeling particularly low in energy. Have you got any other tips for preventing major tiredness in the cold months?

*Pharmaton products were gifted but all views are my own

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Wednesday, 23 October 2019

4 Things To Consider Before Buying A House*

For a long time buying a house didn't seem like something that was going to be achievable for us. No major reasons really, just that we had other priorities like getting a car, finally having a dog of our own, and travelling more, but earlier this year we were at the point where we started to think about how much longer we were going to live in our current flat. We'll have lived here 5 years in November and to be honest, I never expected to stay more than two. Had some circumstances been different, this wouldn't have been our first choice so I was always one foot out of the door! The years have just flown by though and we've accumulated a lot of stuff so we needed to make a decision - look into renting a bigger place, or stick with our current home a bit longer and save as much as possible to buy a house of our own. Money-wise it finally seemed do-able so that's where we've been at since the start of 2019 and now hopefully within the next year or two we'll be buying our forever home. Obviously owning a place of your own is a massive deal and requires so much thought, research and money so it's important to be as clued up as possible. Here are 4 things I think are vital to consider before putting down an offer, and I'd love to know if you have any other advice!
Yellow house
Photo by Thgusstavo Santana from Pexels

Research Different Areas

Choosing to settle in one place possibly for the rest of your life isn't something to take lightly so it's really important you research different areas and are happy with your decision before putting in any offers. One major thing I'll be looking at is the crime rate of a few areas we're considering. Nowhere is going to be perfect and unfortunately things can happen out of the blue but I want to ensure our new area is as crime free as possible and would be a safe place to maybe raise children one day. Something else to consider is how close-by you are to work and family. Maybe you want to move further afield so don't mind the commute but it's definitely worth doing a trial run to a few places to see how long the journey could be.

Have A Clear Idea Of What You Want/Need In A House

When planning to buy a house, and all the saving it requires, it's likely you'll have already had a think about what you want your next home to be like but when it comes down to actually viewing properties, really be clear on what you're looking for. How many bedrooms do you want? Do you want a project or something that's going to require minimal work? How big of a garden would you like? You don't want to fall in love with somewhere and then realise you've actually underestimated how much work and expense the house will need. It could be whilst looking that you change your mind completely and re-think everything you wanted but it's still good to make note of certain things beforehand.

Save As Much Money As Possible - There's More Than Just The Deposit To Pay

This is probably quite an obvious one but SAVE, SAVE, SAVE. We are ploughing any money we can into our help to buy account and extra savings accounts because every little really does help. Our first aim is to save a certain amount which will cover the deposit we think we'll need but before viewing houses and putting offers down, we want to save extra on top of that. There's more than just the deposit to think about, and whilst that itself is a hefty amount, there's also legal fees, estate agent fees and more which can end up being hundreds of pounds. There's then also the cost of any work you'll need doing immediately. Will you need to buy new sofas? Is there a chance you need a new kitchen? All can be big expenses so it's worth saving as much as you can whilst in your current home so when you do move, you don't need to worry about how you're going to afford everything other than the deposit once you're in.

How Much Work Is Going To Need Doing To The House?

So, this kind of goes with some of my previous points but it's so important. Make sure you have an idea on how much work is going to need doing before you move in. When viewing properties, take a notebook with you or make a list on your phone of what you would change and visualise how you would turn it into your home. Once you know the house is yours, make another list of what the priorities are before and after moving in. Make sure you know which room you want to decorate first and as I said just before, check which furniture you need to buy etc. It's also worth checking if any big electrical appliances need replacing before moving in. Things like ovens and washing machines are obviously vital and will need transporting from one place to the other so make note of companies who can help and get in touch! There are also things like oil boilers to consider in some homes, and if in need of repair, it's good to know who to turn to. A quick Google of Boiler Repair Leeds or similar depending on your location, will list people that are available to assist.

So those are 4 things (out of many) that I'll be considering before buying a house, which hopefully won't be too far in the future. It's such a huge thing in anybody's life so it's really important to be as prepared as possible. I hope these tips have helped you if you're currently looking to get on the property ladder, and I'd love to know if you have any other tips or advice if you've been through the process yourself!

*This post is in collaboration with Woolfoot Heating

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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

My Dream Bathroom - Things I'm Hoping For In Our Next Home*

I've spoken a few times about how long it took George and I to make each room in our current flat, to our taste. With renting you're kind of limited to what you can change, unless you have a really relaxed landlord, and whilst ours is pretty laidback and has let us put our own stamp on the place, there have still been limitations. When you're a bit of a perfectionist like me though, and someone who when they get an idea into their head, can't stop until it's realised, that can make things a bit tricky. It was only last year after already 4 years in this flat, that we got rid of the horrendous colour that was in our bathroom and redecorated. I much prefer our bathroom now and at times it really does feel like a little sanctuary when I need an hour to myself but it's not exactly the dream. 
bath with bath board over it. Stack of books, flowers and candles placed on top
Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash
No, my dream of fancy tiles/light walls/pretty accessories hasn't really come to light because there just isn't the room to make those changes and it's not just our home. Someday someone else will live here so we have to be mindful that we can't make all these massive changes. Because of that though, the bathroom is one of the first rooms I'm keen to get started on once we buy our own home. I already have a Pinterest board going that I keep lusting over and I just can't wait to hopefully see all of my ideas come to life one day. So, with all that being said, here are 4 things I'm hoping for in our next home.

Big Windows

At the moment we have a tiny window in our bathroom and not only is that rubbish for when it's like a sauna in there after a shower (HELL in summer) I also feel like it makes the space feel even smaller. The amount of light getting in isn't great so that means in the Autumn and Winter months especially, the whole room feels dark and cramped. A big window would be brilliant for letting in natural light throughout the day, less time with the actual light switched on and it would mean more air getting in, in the warmer months.

A Roll Top Freestanding Bath

Victorian Vibes are a big trend and make for something really unique, and Roll Top Freestanding Baths are a big part of that. With their luxurious look and placement of taps on the side rather than the end of the bath, not only do they look stunning, but they also allow for more room to lie back and relax. Freestanding baths like this seem to be much more popular now in UK bathrooms and I am here for it. I think they look incredibly classy and are a timeless feature that you could keep for years and years.
freestanding bath, grey towels and accessories, tiled floor

Storage Solutions

We are in desperate need of better storage solutions in our next bathroom. One thing that is at the top of my list is a towel radiator so we always have clean towels at hand and I think that's something that though is quite modern, would fit well with more vintage pieces like the bath above. I'd also love to get a piece of furniture like a ladder shelving unit where I could have storage baskets with my fave products in and my stash of bath bombs.

Beautiful Tiling

Another big trend at the moment seems to be tiled flooring like the photo above, and the more photos I see, the more I want it. I love the variety of patterns, shapes and colours available, the possibilities are literally endless. Part of me wants the bathroom to be quite neutral, maybe grey patterned tiles and light pink walls, but then another part of me wants something quite bold on the floor with white walls so they stand out even more.

Writing this has only made me want to properly decorate our own place even more! I've never been someone that is that creative and in the past I've struggled to figure out how I'd like each room to be but there's something really exciting about having a blank canvas and starting all over somewhere new.

Are you a fan of any of the current bathroom trends?

*This post is in collaboration with Bathrooms Direct Yorkshire

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Monday, 21 October 2019

Crispy Parma Ham & Chive Mac & Cheese Recipe

You know days where you just need a huge bowl of cheesy pasta? Well nothing is better for days like that than Mac & Cheese. I never actually used to be a massive fan of mac and cheese, it wasn't something that really appealed to me so I tended to stick to a classic chicken & bacon pasta bake or go for something with a tomato flavour like my pizza pasta bake but after trying a particular mac & cheese recipe from Haste Kitchen's 7 Day Basket recently, this has become one of my all time favourite meals. Over the last few months I've adapted it a little to suit our taste so I thought I'd share how I make it in case anyone wants to give it a try!
mac & cheese in the dish just out of oven
Ingredients: for 2 people
150g macaroni
6 slices of parma ham
25g butter
30g plain flour
300ml milk
Chopped chives
Thyme
Garlic Salt
Salt & Pepper
Grated cheddar and mozzarella

Method:
1. First of all get your macaroni started. Just follow packet instructions, but all I do is weigh out in the saucepan, add boiling water and cook for around 12 mins
2. While the pasta is boiling, you want to grill your parma ham. I just use a griddle pan for this and they only take a few minutes on each side to get crisp as they're so thin
3. Now you can get your sauce started. Start by melting your butter in a small saucepan. When melted, tip in your plain flour and stir until you end with a paste, almost dough-like consistency. Add your milk in gradually, whisking each time to make sure the mix isn't lumpy
4. When you've added all your milk and you have a smooth sauce, you can add in your grated cheddar. I never weigh this so I can't give you exact measurements but if you've ever made a cheese sauce before just go on what you'd usually add. If not start by adding a few handfuls of grated cheese and then taste. I also add in a handful of grated mozzarella too which makes it go all stringy!
5. After your cheese has melted, sprinkle in dried chives, thyme and garlic powder. I also add in salt & pepper, but you don't need much of any of these. Give it one final mix
6. Drain your pasta and break up your parma ham into small pieces. Add the parma ham to the pasta and then you can tip in your cheese sauce. Give it a good mix making sure everything is coated in the sauce then pour into a dish
7. Bake in a 180 degree pre-heated oven for around 25 minutes and it should come out bubbling around the edges with crispy cheese on top!
mac & cheese in bowl
This is such a comforting meal so is a perfect one for a Friday or Saturday night. I love making it at the weekend, serving with some garlic bread and sitting down with Strictly Come Dancing!


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Thursday, 17 October 2019

Sodastream Spirit Hydration Pack Review*

A Sodastream is something I have wanted to try for so long! It's one of those products that has popped up on Instagram countless times and I've seen so many varieties reviewed online but I've always been wary of whether it's worth the price tag. A few weeks ago Sodastream very kindly gifted me a sparkling water maker from their Spirit Hydration Pack and as we've had fun putting it to the test, it's about time I let you all know how I got on and if it's really worth the hype. 
flatlay - yellow background, sodastream, bottled flavours, 1l bottles, 0.5L bottles
With the Spirit Hydration Pack, you can enjoy fresh sparkling water at the touch of a button. Literally. In a matter of minutes, you can have yourself a fruity sparkling drink so it's a great tool to have in for those times when you want something refreshing but can't be bothered to pop to the shops. There are a few different Sodastream products but in this particular pack you get the sparkling water maker, carbonating cylinder, 1L bottle x2, 0.5L bottle x2, and 2 soda press flavours.
flavoured bottles - ginger ale, blackberry lime, on yellow background next to sodastream
Now, it might look a little daunting when you unpack everything and see how much there is but it's actually quite a straightforward process. In each pack you'll receive a little booklet which has instructions with photos (which is always useful) meaning you can see for yourself how to assemble it. The first thing we had to do was insert the carbonating cylinder and then it was just a case of rinsing the bottles and filling with water, then popping onto the Sodastream. There is a large button on the top of the Sodastream which controls the fizziness, meaning you can decide exactly how you want it. Just a few short bursts carbonate the water but you can obviously add more if you want it to be as fizzy as possible, like me. 
sodastream stood up next to carbonated bottle, 1l bottle and flavoured bottles
When you've reached your desired fizz, you can then add in your flavouring. There are several flavours available from Sodastream including Raspberry & Mint, Blonde Cola, Old Fashioned Lemonade, Pink Grapefruit, Indian Tonic and finally Ginger Ale and Blueberry Lime, the two flavours I got to try out. If using a 1L bottle, you'll need 10 tablespoons of your preferred flavour which does sound like a lot, but each flavour is 500ml so you still have plenty left to use again, and you can get several glasses out of the 1L bottle. I found the 10 tablespoons of each flavour was the perfect amount. The flavour was strong enough that you knew it was there but neither were overly sweet. I think out of the two, I preferred the Blueberry Lime, it reminded me very much of a Summer Fruits drink, but the Ginger Ale seemed to gain a fan in George who got through it pretty quickly! 

Now let's talk about the price. Obviously a Sodastream is never going to be the cheapest gadget going but if you're in the market for one, you're probably aware of roughly what you need to pay. The Spirit Hydration Pack in particular is usually priced at £132 but is currently on offer for £89.99 which I think is a pretty decent price drop. Though this comes with two flavours aswell, the others available are priced at £7.99 and there are also fruit drops too which are much cheaper at £2.99. Just a few drops of this into your sparkling water, adds a subtle fruity flavour. Now I've had the chance to try out the Sodastream, I can say I've really loved using it over the last few weeks and it was fun to experiment with the flavours and get to create something of our own rather than what we usually buy from the shop. I'm not sure it's something we'll use all the time so I would say if you're wanting one, really consider if it's going to be something you need and would keep going back to, just to make paying the price worth it. I can see us getting much more use out of this in Summer when all we want is refreshing cold drinks, and I think it's something other members of our family will love too!
collage - left side is a cup with blackberry lime in and 1l bottle next to it. Right side is ginger ale bottle and 1l bottle
If you'd like to find out more about the various Sodastreams available, feel free to check out their website where they have loads of products on offer and lots of advice ready to answer any of your questions. I think this could make a great gift for Christmas for any food and drink lovers you know. It's also a fab one to bring out at parties, especially if you've got younger family members around as it's something everyone can get involved in.

Have you ever tried a Sodastream?

*Sodastream was gifted to me but all views are my own

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Wednesday, 16 October 2019

My Autumn Wishlist - Beauty, Books & Fashion

It's been a long, long time since I last put together a little wishlist and like with every season, now Autumn is here I'm desperate to change pretty much everything! My entire wardrobe, the decor, I want a whole load of new books to get stuck into, and of course there have been SO many new beauty products released which I'm dying to get my hands on. So, I've narrowed my autumnal wishlist down to a few bits, and I thought I'd share.
collage - beauty, fashion, books

Clothes

I've actually picked up a few new pieces recently which are becoming wardrobe staples and things I know I'll wear over and over again. I've really become aware of fast fashion recently and I'm keen to not keep spending money on items I'll only wear a few times and then forget about, I want key pieces that will last me, that I can change up each season. There are a few bits I think I need to complete my wardrobe for Autumn/Winter and one of those for me is a jumper. I love big cosy jumpers in the colder months, they're great for layering and perfect for chucking on in the house, they do tend to last a long time too but I've been really struggling to find any I really like this year. If anyone spots a big slouchy grey (maybe off the shoulder) jumper, let me know! I have seen a really simple but pretty Black Lace Jumper from New Look though for £17.99 which I keep going back to. I think this would go perfectly with some skinny jeans, high boots and a leather jacket and scarf. I also love the look of this Simple Black Peplum. I think a peplum top is so flattering but I never see enough of them around anymore.

The next thing - boots. I have a pair of leopard print boots which don't get me wrong, I ADORE. But they don't go with everything. I've seen two pairs, also from New Look that are calling my name, these Red Patent Boots which would usually be a bit out there for me but I think with some black skinny jeans, they would be stunning, and also these Red Tassel Block Heel Boots. Those are a bit more my style and I think they're the perfect colour for Autumn. The last clothing item I'm after is a new jacket. I love love love my trusty leather jacket but I need more options and on a cold day, that just doesn't cut it. I'm torn between Khaki Hooded Parka which is currently on offer for £30 at New Look, or this Khaki Zip Through Jacket from Yours Clothing which is £40. They're so similar but once is clearly thinner than the other so would still need to be layered up on a really cold day.
black peplum top, red boots, patent boots, khaki jacket

Beauty

There are only a few bits I'm after beauty wise, because like with clothes, I'm really trying not to buy unnecessary items anymore. Something I am desperate to pick up soon though is the new shade Sweater Weather from Essie. Essie nail polishes are some of my faves but this is a colour unlike any others I have. A gorgeous forest green that couldn't be more autumnal if it tried! I've also spotted that Garnier have just released some new sheet masks in time for Christmas, and it's a night-time range. It includes a face tissue mask and an eye mask and as I'm already such a fan of the moisture bomb masks, I'm definitely going to get one of these whilst on offer. They're apparently good for popping on 15 minutes before bed to help you unwind so I'll do a review at some point and let you know how I got on.
garnier moisture bomb mask, essie sweater weather nail polish

Books

Would it really be a wishlist of mine if I didn't include books? Of course it wouldn't. It wasn't too long ago I actually picked up a few more so I'm not in desperate need of any right now but you know when one catches your eye and then you can't help but want to buy it every time you see it? I feel like that about a few books at the moment! First of all Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris. This is the sequel to The Tattooist Of Auschwitz which I've raved about multiple times and I'm so keen to hear Cilka's story, a woman who played quite a big part in the first book. I'm hoping to read it before the end of the year. Next up is Postscript by Cecelia Ahern, the sequel to P.S. I Love You - the film that broke me as a teenager, and I've still not recovered. As much as I enjoy the film, it actually hurts me so I haven't watched it for a long time, you know when there's a film that just gets you every single time? I can't help but want to read the sequel though and find out where Holly is now. I think it's one I'd have to psych myself up for and be prepared to let the tears come, but it's definitely one I need to read soon. The cover aswell, how beautiful?! Lastly, Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shepherd. I'm not usually one for medical type books, as because of health anxiety, I kind of straight away go into it holding back and ready to close it if I need too, like with This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay. I've read such good reviews of this though and it's a little different in that it's about sudden and unexplained deaths. Richard has performed over 23,000 autopsies including the Princess Diana enquiry and 9/11 so he has some really fascinating stories to tell.  
books - cilka's journey, postscript, unnatural causes
So that's my first little wishlist in a while. Have you got your eye on anything at the moment? Let me know if you've read any of the books above! I'd love to hear your thoughts on them.

*Affiliate links used in this post

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Herbalife Nutrition Offers Products And Support To Help People Make Healthier Choices*

Herbalife Nutrition is a company that is concerned about the wellness of consumers and they have shared many helpful articles on their website. One of my favourite posts provides tips on how a person can shop for groceries that are healthier. This article is a good piece for those who struggle in the store because they don't have the information they need to make better food choices.
Photo by Josh Sorenson from Pexels
The article also recommends that a person pay attention to the nutrition information that is shared on the products that they are considering purchasing. People can swap out something unhealthy that they would normally purchase at the grocery store and buy a better alternative that they can change up at home to make it tasty. The article also recommends that people add in a new fruit or vegetable every week so that they expand the foods that they are eating, and to try to shop for produce that is in season.

Herbalife Nutrition has shared articles about the nutritional needs that women have, the importance of managing the stress, and tips for staying in shape while in college. This company seems to care about their consumers, and they show that with all the content that they put out on their website.

Herbalife Nutrition was founded and is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. When the company first started, its goal was to change the nutritional habits of people all around the world for the better. The company now operates in more than 90 countries, spreading their reach around the world.

*This post is in collaboration with Herbalife Nutrition

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Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Bear Update #2 - 8 Months Old, Doggy DayCare & His First Operation

Though I feel like I talk about our puppy Bear on my blog A LOT, it's been quite a while since I last shared a proper update. We brought him home in April and a month later I shared how he was getting on, his first experience at puppy club and more, so now he's just turned 8 months old, I thought it was about time for another as quite a bit has changed!
Bear at daycare

8 Months Old?!

HOW? Seriously how is my baby nearly 1? Okay I know it's a few months away but before we know it his first birthday will be here and I'm already close to tears about it. I just can't get over that this little man was something I'd dreamed about and hoped for, for such a long time and now he's been ours for months and is growing so quickly. I can totally see why when people have one child, they end up having another then another then another because I already keep thinking about when we'll be giving Bear another little pup to play with. Sometimes I don't realise that we've reached the end of a certain stage until it's gone and I'm never prepared for it. When we first brought him home, for weeks and weeks he would curl up on my chest and sleep, and he also used to love laying on my shoulders but then one day he just grew out of that and I still get sad when I think about it. I wish I'd known how quickly it would go because I'd have savoured those moments even more. He's honestly changing so fast and I already feel like we're out of that small pup phase 😭
collage - bear at 5 weeks old and at 7 months old

Our First Family Holiday

I won't talk about this too much because I did a full blog post about it which you can find here but I had to briefly mention we had our first family holiday this Summer. He was only just about to turn 5 months old when we went so we had no idea what we'd let ourselves in for and how it would go but he was surprisingly well behaved. Let's just not talk about the time he ran for his life on Scarborough beach and we genuinely nearly lost him. There's video footage of that on his instagram if you want a laugh. He did have the time of his life though, his two fave uncles were there aswell and he had all the attention the whole weekend. We ate a lot of ice cream, visited Whitby/Scarborough/Bridlington and just enjoyed ourselves more than we could have predicted.
Bear windswept on holiday

Goodbye Puppy Club, Hello Doggy Daycare

I mentioned in the last update that we had just started taking Bear to puppy club, and it was one of the best things we could have done for him. Puppies were only allowed until they reached 5 months so he had his last session before the holiday and we were all sad to say goodbye. Each session he got to interact with a variety of different dogs and we learnt so much from it. I couldn't recommend finding a local puppy club enough if you're thinking of getting a dog. After puppy club ending and our holiday, he had his assessment at a local doggy daycare centre and he smashed it! He only goes once a week but that 1/2 a day does all of us the world of good. I love Bear to bits but it's not like everyday is perfect, sometimes he does drive me up the wall as I'm sure I do him aswell, and those few hours gives me the time to actually clean the flat (something I had no idea would be so hard with a dog), pop to the shops or if George is free, we can use that time to go to the cinema or go for a meal. We don't really have anyone around to help us out with Bear, and whilst we totally knew that was going to be the case before we got him, sometimes time just us two is so needed and having somewhere like a daycare centre means we can be us again for a little while. He has the BEST time there too. He's got a good group of buddies, including two bulldogs who I'm sure he thinks are the same size as him, and the people that work there love the dogs like their own.
collage - bear at daycare with other dogs

His First Operation

Last month Bear had his first operation which was not fun for any of us, but he's recovered well and now back to his normal self. We thought getting him neutered as early as was allowed would be best as it means it's not something we have to dread or put him through when he's older and he was a little star. He recovered quickly, though was not a fan of the cone of shame at all, and within two weeks he was back at daycare, and running circles around us again. It certainly wasn't fun leaving him at the vets for the day and it's definitely not something I want to repeat again but at least now it's all over and done with!
Bear with his cone on after his operation
I think that's pretty much everything to update you on. He's still the best puppy ever, and we love him more and more each day. He's not great at sleeping in his crate anymore which isn't ideal but we're working on it, he loves human food more than life itself and he is still the friendliest little thing. I couldn't imagine life without him now.


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Monday, 14 October 2019

& Juliet At The Manchester Opera House Review*

Some bloggers earn amazing amounts of money through their blog, some work with the biggest beauty brands in the world, and some just plod along doing okay, doing their thing and just seeing what comes their way like me. And I'm totally okay with that. But recently I've had a few opportunities which have honestly made my year. I'm not afraid to say that the first half of 2019 was quiet blog-wise, but because we'd just got our puppy Bear, I kind of didn't have time to go chasing opportunities so I reached a point where I was okay with it maybe just being a hobby again. Something seemed to change towards the end of Summer though and I'm so grateful for it because it's only made me even more motivated and made me realise how passionate I am about this blog. One of the amazing opportunities I was approached with recently was to be invited to go and see the new musical & Juliet at the Manchester Opera House, and as I'm sure you can imagine, being the huge theatre fan I am, I jumped at the chance! To some it might not seem like a huge deal, but to me, it's something I can be so so proud of and look back on one day and smile.
& Juliet stage at the Manchester Opera House
I've seen quite the variety of musicals now from Wicked to Kinky Boots, Hamilton to Heathers and most recently Come From Away and Waitress, but none of those are exactly BRAND NEW/never been done anywhere else before so with & Juliet I had very little idea what I was going to see. In case you haven't heard of & Juliet, let me tell you a little bit about it before I get onto my thoughts of the show though. 

'The most famous love story of all time. Remixed. What if Juliet's famous ending was really just her beginning? What if she decided to choose her own fate? Join Juliet on this sensational journey of self-discovery and second chances, told through some of the most glittering pop anthems of the last three decades. & Juliet is the hilariously irreverent new musical that proves when it comes to love, there's always life after Romeo.'

The first thing I have to talk about with this show is the cast. They are INSANE. As soon as Oliver Tompsett arrives on stage as William Shakespeare you feel his presence and he starts the show with a bang with 'Larger Than Life' by the Backstreet Boys. Yep, there's a lot of Backstreet Boys music in this and I AM HERE FOR IT. Not keen on the idea of Juliet giving up her whole life for Romeo, William's wife, Anne Hathaway played by Cassidy Janson who puts on a stellar performance throughout, arrives next and comes up with a new plot, what about if Juliet lived? From here we meet Juliet played by the AMAZING Miriam-Teak-Lee who steals each scene she's in and we see what her life might have gone on to become without Romeo in the picture. It's hard to really explain much else about the show without totally spoiling it, but it's a show everyone needs to see for themselves. Aswell as these 3 cast members, there's also David Bedella, Arun Blair-Mangat, Jordan Luke Gage, Melanie La Barrie and Tim Mahendran who all deserve a mention, but really the whole ensemble are outstanding. I was in awe of every person on the stage who clearly all adore the show and are so passionate about the story.
collage - production shots of & Juliet
I've already briefly mentioned the music but this musical actually features many modern hits from Max Martin, I couldn't believe how many had been written by the same person! Domino by Jessie J, Overprotected by Britney Spears, Confident by Demi Lovato, Teenage Dream by Katy Perry, It's My Life by Bon Jovi and That's The Way It Is by Celine Dion, though there are of course loads more I could mention. I had no idea how these songs would make their way into the story but they do and it works! It's a classic jukebox musical but not overly cheesy. It's taken a story we've all heard a million times and added a really unique twist.

I also have to add the staging and choreography really make this show stand out too. The choreography was flawless, each member of the cast getting their chance to shine and no-one being overshadowed, and at times it really felt like a concert. Whilst the staging might not be the most complicated, the costumes and effects are some of the best I've seen in a show - the lighting, the double revolve, everything about it comes together to form one incredible show.
collage - outside of Manchester Opera House, Miriam Teak Lee at the bows, Oliver Tompsett & Cassidy Janson at the bows and song list
I honestly had the best night seeing & Juliet and I can't wait for it to arrive in London. I'm already just waiting for when I can book tickets, and I hope it's a show that runs and runs in the West End. I can see it being the next Kinky Boots, a fun filled show that leaves you feeling on such a high by the end that you can't help but keep going back. So many people have already made repeat visits and if I lived closer, I would have done the same. The soundtrack drops on November 20th so if you want a listen of all the songs included, keep an eye out for that, and the show is playing from the 2nd of November at the Shaftesbury Theatre if you want to see it for yourself which I really recommend you do. It's pure joy!

Have you got any musicals lined up? Do you think & Juliet is a show you'd enjoy?

*Gifted tickets but all views are my own

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